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When it comes to technology, the answer to the question "How fast do you want to go?" is often "How fast can we go?" From processors to internet connections, so long as the price is right, faster is generally better as far as consumers are concerned.

So it's somewhat surprising that a survey of 3,000 consumers in the U.S. conducted by investment firm Piper Jaffray found tepid demand for next-generation 4G LTE network technology.

4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) delivers mobile network speeds up to ten times faster than 3G networks. In real world usage scenarios, 4G LTE networks from major carriers like Verizon generally deliver throughput of 5 to 12 Mbps on downloads and 2 to 5 Mbps on uploads, although higher rates are not uncommon during non-peak hours.

But as reported by AppleInsider, according to Piper Jaffray's research, consumers apparently aren't chomping at the bit for 4G LTE as more and more devices that can take advantage of 4G LTE networks become available. A full 47% of the consumers polled indicated they didn't believe 4G LTE was necessary; just 15% stated they believed 4G LTE was superior.

For carriers investing billions in rolling out 4G LTE, that's probably not the best news in the world, although it's safe to assume that as consumers become more familiar with 4G LTE (perhaps through the release of the iPhone 5), opinions will change to some extent.

But even if consumers aren't hot on 4G LTE yet, the roll-out of faster mobile networks is good news for publishers and retailers. Skyrocketing mobile usage is having a significant impact on both groups - and creating new challenges. While consumers may not see an immediate need for 4G LTE specifically, one of their biggest complaints about the mobile web experience is slow page loading times.

Tablet users, many of whom use their tablets through mobile connections, expect websites to load within seconds, and one study released earlier this year found that 71% of mobile users expect pages to load as fast on their mobile devices as on their desktops. For publishers and retailers, the message is clear: if you're not fast, it's going to be hard to profit from mobile usage.

That has made mobile website performance optimization an increasingly important specialty, but in many cases, the biggest factor in a good experience is one that publishers and retailers can't control: the quality of the mobile connection. 4G LTE won't alleviate all of the problems in this area, but it will certainly help, whether consumers recognize it or not. And that's good for everybody.

Patricio Robles

Published 23 August, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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